While often critical of the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, I feel compelled to speak out when these leaders step up and do the right thing. You’ll recall that Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) spoke on the floor of the House last week and said that the president was waiting for troops to get old enough to be sent over to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement. I was offended by the comment and spoke out about my thoughts on the Pundits Blog, accordingly:

You can imagine my surprise this morning when the following exchange took place on the floor of the House of Representatives:

PRESIDING OFFICER: The House will be in order. For what purpose does the gentleman from California rise?

REP. PETE STARK: Madame Speaker, I ask to be recognized for a point of personal privilege. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend.

PRESIDING OFFICER: The gentleman has appraised the chair that gives a rise of personal privilege under Rule 9 the gentleman is recognized for one hour.

REP. STARK: I thank the Speaker. It is very serious — and it is very serious — and I won't take the hour. I want to apologize to my — first of all, my colleagues, many of whom i have offended, to the president, his family, to the troops that may have found in my remarks as were suggested in the motion that we just voted on. And I do apologize, and for this reason I think that we have a serious issue before us, the issue of providing medical care to children, the issue of what we do about a war that we are [divided] about how to end. I hope that with this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and that we can return to the issues that do divide us, but that we can resolve in a better fashion. I yield back the balance of my time.

I will not ascribe the motives or the motivation for Rep. Stark to have taken the floor this morning to apologize, other than to say that he looked sincerely upset and wanted to wipe the slate clean. I take his apology at face value — frankly, even deeper so — as he looked choked-up and rather emotional.

While he said the wrong words and ascribed a motivation about the president’s intentions last week, Rep. Pete Stark, unlike many on either side of the political aisle, looked dead into the camera and into the eyes of his colleagues and apologized for his remarks and asked for forgiveness. That act of political contrition is to be applauded, and the issue should be firmly closed and placed behind us.